12-Year-Old Blues Player

Watch my 12-year-old student tear up a classic blues tune. Notice how he throws in riffs, kicks, an improvised solo, and even a key change along the way without reading music (the music on the stand is a different piece).  Now, some would assume this kid is exceptionally gifted or that his teacher is a miracle worker.  As much as flattery is hard to deny, I insist that talent is overrated when it comes to playing or teaching creatively. My student is a well-rounded regular kid with normal musical aptitude and a lot of other interests as his uniform attests (soccer practice follows the lesson). What he does have on his side however is: – A genuine love for playing the piano – A more or less regular practice routine – Parents who support his interest in a variety of musical styles – Parents who embrace my teaching philosophy, which … Read more…

The Best Place to Start

I get a lot of questions from teachers about my That’s Jazz piano method regarding ability levels.  They usually fall into three categories: 1. Beginner Students I have a first year student who I think would enjoy your books.  What level of technique is required to begin? 2. Play by Ear Students My student reads a little but would rather noodle around than play written music.  I think he might like jazz. Do you think Book 2 is right for him?  3. Good Readers I have an advanced student who reads and plays written music very well but is new to improvisation.  What book do you suggest? To all these questions, I always suggest everyone start with Book 1 – Getting Into It regardless of their technical ability.   For beginners, Book 1 is an obvious fit as soon as they have the very basics down. The first tune, Spare … Read more…

Scaling the Chords

Here is the third in a series of blogs coupled with videos that focus on specific tunes from my That’s Jazz piano method books that we will be playing in the 88 Creative Keys summer camp this summer. Late Beginner – That’s Jazz Book 1 1. Spare Change 2. Swing Out 3. Burrito Cha Cha Early Intermediate – That’s Jazz Book 2 Flint and Steel Get Up, Get Ready Repeat After Me Intermediate – That’s Jazz Book 3 Fired Up Livin’ the Blues Stepping Stones Burrito Cha Cha from That’s Jazz Book 1 is my focus today but the principles discussed here can be applied to most any tune. Please take a look at the video where I demonstrate how to get the most out of this tune.  Pay particular attention around 2:07 where I explain the concept of playing a prescribed pattern in the left hand while the right hand noodles … Read more…

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